Many parents feel that camping with a baby is difficult and are reluctant to give it a try. Actually, camping with babies can be quite enjoyable. You will, however, need to be prepared in order to make your camping trip an enjoyable one for both you and baby. Here are some tips when taking babies camping…
Keep it Simple
For your first camping trip with baby, choose a destination nearby (no more than a couple of hours away) and plan to stay for only one night. Or consider camping out in the backyard. Keeping first camping trips with babies short and simple will help set the trip up for success and give parents the confidence to gradually try longer camping trips as babies grow.
Pack simple, easy to prepare meals for baby and adults. If you are bottle-feeding, bottle liners provide a good alternative to washing baby bottles. Jarred baby food is a convenient option for quick and easy camping meals for baby (if you normally prepare your own, be sure baby will eat the jarred food before your camping trip). For the adults, consider preparing meals prior to your camping trip that can simply be reheated over the camp fire or on a camp stove.
First, know this: babies get dirty camping. If you’re not comfortable with baby looking a little grubby during your trip, you may want to consider a less adventurous family getaway. If you’re still ready to get out there, pack lots of clothes – more than you think you will need. You’ll need to be prepared for weather changes, the occasional tumble in a mud puddle, as well as the normal “oopsies” babies experience such as leaky diapers, spilled strained peas, and so on. Pack a hat (or two) to protect baby from the sun or help keep his or her head warm. If you are camping in late spring or early fall, bring a knit hat. It can get surprisingly cold at night even at these times of year.
Protect baby from the sun and insects. Be sure to pack baby-safe sunscreen. If baby is 2 months old or older, pack insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin (you’ll want it anyway). If not, you’ll want to pack insect netting designed to fit over your stroller and playard (these can purchased very inexpensively wherever baby gear is sold).
Pack a well-stocked first aid kit. Be sure to include a baby thermometer, children’s acetaminophen or ibuprofen, tweezers (for removal of splinters or ticks), and diaper cream.
Pack ample plastic trash bags for diaper disposal, wet and dirty clothes, and general use around the campsite. Consider bringing several rolls of soft, but strong, paper towels (such as Viva or Bounty) instead of baby wipes to use for diaper changes, wiping dirty hands and faces, and other uses around the campsite.
Consider Comfort and Safety
Camping with small babies is really easy as far as comfort and safety are concerned. They don’t go anywhere, so it’s pretty easy to keep them safe. For sleeping, simply place a bassinet basket in the tent. For playing, place a blanket over a tarp on the ground. Alternatively, you could bring a portable playard for sleeping and playing.
If your baby is mobile, safety requires more planning. A playard is really a necessity to keep baby safe when you are busy doing tasks around the campsite. It also provides a roomier place for baby to sleep and is more comfortable since it is elevated off the ground. Be sure to sleep in a place in the tent where toddlers can’t get out while you are sleeping.
Be sure to safely store hazardous camping items away from baby. This includes camping knives, matches, camp stove fuel, lighters, first aid kits, sunscreen, insect repellent, rope, and anything else toxic or small enough to fit in his or her mouth.
A baby carrier is very useful when camping with babies, for comfort, convenience, and safety. Just as when you are at home, there will be times that baby is fussy when you are camping. The carrier provides a comforting place to snuggle up on a relaxing walk. It also provides a safe, convenient place for baby to “hang” while Mom or Dad get some camp chores done.